Life with Jasmine and Juliet, Our Rescued Dachshunds

Random notes on our experience with our two rescued miniature dachshunds

Stairs or No Stairs?

on July 20, 2009

Where do you draw the line on overprotective?

One of the comments on my last post about Jasmine taking a header down the stairs was a kind and gentle (thanks!) reminder that Dachshunds shouldn’t go up and down stairs. Which brings me to my dilemma. Should I let her?

We already had Jasmine when we bought this house. One of the considerations I made when we were searching for a house was to try to find one with a first-floor master bedroom. Alas, we didn’t find the right house that had that feature. We sleep upstairs. My art studio will also be upstairs.

The stairs are a standard staircase that is fully carpeted in deep plush carpet. When we first brought Jasmine here, I diligently carried her up and down the stairs. However, she started darting ahead after a little while, and when she had no adverse effects from it, I just let it go and let her climb up and down herself. When I leave the room, she sometimes goes searching for me upstairs. We do have baby gates and we can keep her from going up and down by herself.

Taking her outside to “go” also requires that she go down 5 wide steps off the deck. She zips up and down those as well.

So, I either allow her to do this by herself, or I have to carry her up and down the stairs to go outside, to go to bed, to go up with me every time I go up, etc. This probably means being picked up 20 times per day on average. While I don’t mind doing it (except for MY bad back) except for the inconvenience (laundry + dachshund + baby gate = disaster), I’m wondering how many people with dachshunds NEVER have a problem with back issues AND have stairs.

Now given that Jasmine has already had IVDD, I know that it’s time for me to be much more proactive about her health and stop being lazy about the stairs. But I really want to know the science behind this rather than the “experts” just stating that “stairs are hard on Dachshund backs.” Does anyone have any insight into the cause/effect of stairs on Dachshund IVDD? Do you let your little darlings do the stairs themselves? And have they had any issues? Inquiring minds want to know. Please leave a comment. Also, here’s a poll…let’s see how many people do let their Doxies take the stairs:

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20 responses to “Stairs or No Stairs?

  1. Erica says:

    We let Darwin & Scoobie go up and down the stairs from the kitchen to the deck and from the deck to the yard. There are few steps & they are fairly wide. But inside the house, we have uncarpeted, hardwood stairs between the upstairs living area (kitchen, dining/living room, bedrooms, bathroom) and the the downstairs (media room, laundry, office). the dogs are carried up & down those stairs for their down protection, as a slip would lead to a crash landing on a tile floor. We want to avoid that!

  2. Ruby & Penny says:

    I never let my mini dachshunds do stairs or jump on or off the furniture. I’m too scared of IVDD and surgery. I had a simple ramp built off of our back deck for $75. Here is a link to a picture http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_LJ-pkWyQR9U/ShMAK_i75ZI/AAAAAAAABr4/bX_S54aJ4Ao/s400/snow+storm+2+002.jpg
    The dogs took to it right away. I also have ramps (Doxie-Ramp) for my dogs to go up on the couch and bed. I figure ramps save on expensive back surgery and heartache.
    Ruby & Penny’s mom

  3. Rachel says:

    I have lot’s of stairs (house has 3 levels) and use gates to keep my mini doxie from running up and down. Every once in a while – for example while I’m carrying the loundry basket, she will sneak off on her own. She has gotten better and is usually not taking advantage of an open gate… I have an indoor ramp (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=2874) that I purchased for her first birthday – it is now over 5 years and still working great!

    My vet has pointed out that most people would not carry their dog up and down the stairs and doxies don’t always end up with IVDD but there is no guarantee. Sophie is at a good weight for her size and walks at least a mile every day, but my attitude is the same as Penny and Ruby’s mom, if I can minimize risk – why not.

  4. Lindy says:

    I love reading about how well Jasmine is doing and I like to think all my babies are in such wonderful homes. (I’ve tried requiring every adopter to keep a blog like you but somehow the new families don’t follow my instructions!).

    As to Jasmine’s back and stairs – I’ve been very lucky never to have to deal with a back problem. However, another foster dog had issues and had to be on crate rest . Months and months after recovering, the elevator in the bldg broke and his mom let him go up and down the stairs. He ended up needing surgery and died from ascending micro malaise.

    This so freaked me out that I immediately ordered a ramp for the bed (since I don’t have stairs)

    I would suggest building a ramp on your stairs -ugly maybe but easier than carrying up or down. (There must be some way to hold a board in place that Jasmine could learn to use.)

    Good luck!. I’m looking forward to hearing about Jasmine and snow.

    • mwdonnelly says:

      Lindy! Nice to hear from you!!!

      I think the flight of stairs might be a little steep for the stairs. I’ve resorted to picking her up to go up and down the stairs. What’s nice is that Jasmine has already adjusted to the change in “rules” and generally sits and waits for me to pick her up. She’s not thrilled with being picked up to go up and down stairs (the little “oof” sound she makes is really cute) but she has accepted the rule and goes along. Such a good doggie! :-)

      As for Jasmine and snow…we’ll see about that. She’s not thrilled with any cold or wet on her feet…snow…that’s going to be a challenge!

      Thanks for keeping in touch!

  5. Nilavanh says:

    Hello

    My 7 year old dachshund, Noel, passed away about 2 months ago from IDD and he was allowed to use the stairs. On a few occasion, he slipped down the stairs and crashed against the wall. Whether these accidents led to his back problems, I can’t say with 100% certainty but it probably contributed to it. If I could do it over again, I would take the time to carry him up and down the larger of the two staircases which consists of only 8 steps. I would also prevent him from jumping onto furniture. Unfortunately, hindsight sucks.

    By the way, I’m really enjoying your posts! Brings back fond memories of my little baby.

    • Tim says:

      I allow Hazel to run up the stairs but thankfully she is afraid to run down.

      Is it damaging for a doxie to run up the stairs?

      • mwdonnelly says:

        I’m not sure, but given how much Jasmine hunches her back when she runs up stairs, I’m sure it can’t be good for them. I’m now carrying her both up and down the stairs. Better safe than sorry…

  6. Trish says:

    I have a wonderful standard dachshund, Scooter, who is 4 yrs. old. I just moved to an apartment that is upstairs with inner stairs that lead down to the outer door. The stairs are steep, I believe 13-14 steps. Scooter and my other dog, a lab/pekingese mix, Bruiser, go up and down the stairs when I take them out for their walk. Scooter is a stubborn, obnoxious (and darn adorable!) dog and will fly up or down the stairs like he’s superman. He’s quite graceful and fast, but I have started wondering if I should just take the wind out of his sails and start carrying him up and down. My other dog is about 6, with short legs, stocky build, and he takes his time on the stairs, so I don’t worry as much about him. Scooter, on the other hand, thinks he’s ten feet tall and bullet proof, a little daredevil. I nearly lost him in May after pieces of a collar he chewed and swallowed unraveled and cut up his intestines (over 12″ removed, 2 surgeries, not expected to survive), and so I want to do what’s best for him…and Bruiser. Given that my stairs are so steep and there is no carpeting, I think I’ll start carrying Scooter. If he takes a header and is seriously injured, or worse, I’ll never forgive myself. So, I guess I would say to anyone to assess the stairs, how many steps they are and how steep they are. That could be the real difference in whether a tragedy is more likely. Scooter and Bruiser mean the world to me, they are family, and I want to do what I can to keep them as healthy as possible. I lost my 15 yr. old beagle, Bailey, in July, so I worry a little bit more about my two little “boys.” I don’t believe in “coddling,” but I do believe in prevention where possible. So, yep, I’m going to start carrying my little Scooter, though he will surely protest! He’s in great health, beautifully built, but anything can happen despite a dog’s overall health and size. If I think it’s necessary to carry Bruiser, too, who is significantly heavier than Scooter, I will. I’ll just think of it as being like holding my 22 month old granddaughter’s hand…better safe than sorry. :)

  7. Leonie says:

    Hi everyone, I’m writing from Australia – am not sure if anyone’s still following this discussion as it’s quite old now… I just discovered it so thought I’d add my “two bobs worth”. I have two 8-year-old mini dachshunds, Jack and Lucy. They used to occasionally run up some carpeted stairs I had in my old house years ago, but aside from that Jack in particular had never jumped on or off anything – they don’t have the legs for it! Despite this, however, he suffered a disc prolapse around 2 years ago which required major surgery. He’s recovered really well – he’s a little weaker in the back legs I think, but thankfully he can walk and run and do whatever he wants. Interestingly, when he came home after his hospital stay the surgeon told me that there were 2 things I should never now allow him to do – play “rough” with anyone, and play with balls. He didn’t mention stairs or steps at all. Despite this I attempt to carry both Jack and Lucy up and down the steep, hardwood stairs in our new house – although little Lucy often darts up the stairs really quickly before I can stop her. Jack doesn’t, he waits to be picked up – he’s bigger and longer, and I think he knows he wouldn’t manage them. Neither of them can get down stairs on their own so luckily they don’t try. Despite this however a horrible thing happened the other day – Jack slipped and fell all the way down the stairs, tumbling and crashing at the bottom on the wooden floor. I was beside myself, but luckily he’s not showing any signs of pain or ill-effects. This just made me all the more determined, though, to stop them from tackling the stairs if I can…

    Not sure if this helps but just thought I’d share my experiences… :)

    • mwdonnelly says:

      Hi Leonie! Welcome to the blog, and thanks for your comments!

      It’s hard to keep determined little dogs from doing what they want, but after time and some strict routine, they’ll get it. Jasmine never goes down the stairs by herself. She waits at the top for me to bring her down. If I have to carry something downstairs and she’s with me, she’ll wait at the top, her little face peering down and those floppy little ears perked with anticipation. She’s SO good about it that I don’t worry about her going downstairs by herself anymore. However, I have not been able to stop her from going UP the stairs on her own. While I know that this could be bad for her back, she just whizzes by me like a tiny puma and…zoom.

      I’m glad that your Jack is okay even with his surgery and his spill. Thanks for your comments (I love your other comment about the “puppy sandwich”) and thanks for stopping by!

    • I know this is an old thread. I am a new Doxie Mom and trying to figure out what is best for Harley :) my black and tan smooth. Harley like most other Doxies is very determined. I started carrying her up the stairs, one day she made it up two, and I brought her down, that seemed to make her more detrmined than ever. She is lightening fast, and will race up the stairs, zip there goes a black streak, she will not come down the stairs, I always carry her. Now I am perplexed about the comment you made that the vet said not to play ball with your Doxie Leonie, why is that? I thought it would be great excersice for them, playing fetch. Harley loves to play fetch with anything especially her balls. Can you provide some insight for me if your still following this blog?

      Thanks!

      Harley’s Mum
      Emma

  8. Penn says:

    Hi, I am about to take on a 7 month ‘hund who is a cross between a mini and, i believe, a standard. He is well brought up I understand in that he knows to wait to be carried up steps, but has yet not encountered STAIRS.
    I have a ‘dog-leg’ flight of wooden stairs to my front door, and I intend to carry him up and down. However, I was interested in possibly putting permanent ramps within the bannisters and to one side of the stairs, with ridge as on the ramp into a chicken house. Any thoughts on this would be very welcome.

    • mwdonnelly says:

      Ramps would be great! Whether your dog uses the ramps…well, that’s up to your dog. And we all *KNOW* that dachshunds do what they want to do and not what you want them to do, now don’t they? If your dog has not encountered stairs and you don’t want him to use them…having an alternative and showing him what the “norm” is (the ramp) is a good thing. However, knowing how to encounter and navigate stairs is also important if he is ever in trouble and needs to use them. Jasmine now does not go down the stairs in our home without someone picking her up, but she DOES go down the three stairs from the deck to the lawn when she goes outside. Her routine dictates her actions.

  9. Sarah says:

    This discussion was started a long time ago – but I thought I’d throw this out there anyway….

    When my little Olive Oyl was only about 5 months old I unfortunately dropped her. She was quite squirmy (IS still squirmy even at almost 3 yrs old) and actually launched herself off my chest & out of my arms when I was carrying her – but I still felt horribly guilty.

    I of course took her to the vet to get checked out and he actually told me that there is nothing I can do to prevent my dachshund from getting disc disease. That some dogs are just more likely to get the disease over others, genetically.

    I’m wondering if anyone else has actually heard about the genetic predisposition to IDD or disc disease? (This is being said with me also pointing out that I stumbled across this blog while searching for the best pet ramp, I still don’t think Olive should jump off the bed, even though that wild child thinks she can do anything. Typical dachshund.)

    Here’s a pic of my cute little dapple on my blog: http://www.sarendipity.com/blog/2012/02/blue-day-33-of-365-366-photo-a-day-project-day-13-of-29-february-photo-a-day-challenge-i-wanted-the-yellow-coat-for-co.html

  10. Craig says:

    Another Aussie from Caulfield Melbourne
    I have a Mini Dachshund Pammy she is 4 years old only just.
    She comes from 1 of the most reputable breeders in the country & her parents have won
    multiple awards as champion mini’s – I was Read the Riot Act from the breeder & a 1 hour interview
    to see if we were appropriate potential parents, the reason I went to the best was to avoid any potential back problems.
    * No Stairs Ever
    * No jumping on beds or couches
    * Do not let her get over weight
    I rented a place 8 months ago with carpeted stairs & immediately put on a Metal swing baby door, at
    first I was really diligent, one day the door come off and I had to re screw it on and that took approx
    2 months – she was flying up & down them & I thought ahhh she is fine besides I didn’t want to
    get up at 3-am for toilet Duty.
    Flash forward she has done something to her back, she screamed in the Park when I picked her up 3 weeks ago … Wet the Bed … lazy & whimpering.
    Vet didn’t seem to concerned after twisting her neck in almost Poltergeist fashion stabbing her spine ect.

    Why am I posting this ?
    Onsior is an incredible Anti inflammatory and is new on the market, Its so good your Dashy will be running
    around like normal – so hey lets go for a big walk around the block play tug of War ect ect.
    I contributed to a minor minor incident.

    Next day & consecutive days decline decline.
    Now hardcore crate for 6 weeks, Onsior every morning Valium at night.
    Fingers crossed Pammy will pull up.
    My advice NO TO STAIRS & JUMPING
    If you get any of the symptoms above and use Anti Inflammatory crate straight away no movement
    you will be grateful long-term…. and get plenty of old towels ready for pee pee in the crate

  11. Katrina Moore says:

    I have a 4mo. old doxie pup and he doesn’t like going down the stairs. He comes up the stairs like a champ,but there is no way he going down. I live on the 2nd floor so I don’t even attempt to try to get him to go down. I don’t know if it’s a natural thing for dachshunds to be afraid of going down as apposed to coming up but it makes sense to me. The one time he went down he fell, and he was a bit hesitant before he fell so I need to know for sure myself.

    • mwdonnelly says:

      It’s better if you don’t let your pup go down stairs due to back issues that could develop. If he’s afraid of doing so, you can use that to train him to wait for you to pick him up to carry him down. Both my pups do wait at the top of the stairs for their ride, and wag their tail in anticipation of going downstairs. I made it into a fun game, and they love it. I had back issues myself, and I trained Jasmine to climb up into my lap as I sat on the top step to help me pick her up. It’s now part of her fun routine! Good luck with your pup!

  12. Elsie says:

    I have a 2 year old piebald mini, Joe. He climbs stairs, jumps off anything, and flies down stairs—he does it all. I’m really concerned becaused his vertebrae are sticking out in the middle of his back it’s been like that for a year. How do I stop him from jumping? He has so much energy and stubborn, too. Like he has no reservations, about jumping he’s fearless. But he already hurt his arm playing ball so I can just see him hurting his back as well. Help!

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